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Ecstatic Epileptic Seizures: A Glimpse into the Multiple Roles of the Insula

Published inFrontiers in behavioral neuroscience, vol. 10, 21
Publication date2016
Abstract

Ecstatic epileptic seizures are a rare but compelling epileptic entity. During the first seconds of these seizures, ecstatic auras provoke feelings of well-being, intense serenity, bliss, and "enhanced self-awareness." They are associated with the impression of time dilation, and can be described as a mystic experience by some patients. The functional neuroanatomy of ecstatic seizures is still debated. During recent years several patients presenting with ecstatic auras have been reported by others and us (in total n = 52); a few of them in the setting of presurgical evaluation including electrical brain stimulation. According to the recently recognized functions of the insula, and the results of nuclear brain imaging and electrical stimulation, the ecstatic symptoms in these patients seem to localize to a functional network centered around the anterior insular cortex, where we thus propose to locate this rare ictal phenomenon. Here we summarize the role of the multiple sensory, autonomic, affective, and cognitive functions of the insular cortex, which are integrated into the creation of self-awareness, and we suggest how this system may become dysfunctional on several levels during ecstatic aura.

Citation (ISO format)
GSCHWIND, Markus A., PICARD, Fabienne. Ecstatic Epileptic Seizures: A Glimpse into the Multiple Roles of the Insula. In: Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 2016, vol. 10, p. 21. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00021
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ISSN of the journal1662-5153
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